Mike Halford

You've heard the expression "let's get busy?" Well, Mike Halford is a blogger who gets "biz-zay!" Consistently and thoroughly.

Jets extend Dano, who could be Vegas-bound

Winnipeg extended forward Marko Dano on Tuesday, inking him to a one-year deal worth $850,000.

Now, we’ll see how long he remains a Jet.

Dano, 22, certainly could be an option for Las Vegas at the upcoming expansion draft. It’s been suggested Golden Knights GM George McPhee wants young, inexpensive players with talent that hasn’t necessarily blossomed at the NHL level, and Dano definitely fits that bill.

A former first-round pick — taken 27th overall by Columbus at the 2013 draft — he’s known as an offensively skilled guy that’s had some success in various big league stops.

His best showing came with the Blue Jackets as a rookie in ’14-15, when he racked up eight goals and 21 points in just 35 games. Columbus looked like they had a good young prospect on their hands, but they flipped him to Chicago as part of the Brandon Saad trade.

Things never worked out for Dano with the ‘Hawks, and he was shipped out as part of the Andrew Ladd trade after playing just 13 games.

With the Jets, Dano has split time between Winnipeg and the club’s AHL affiliate. He had 11 points in 38 games last year, missing nearly two months to an ankle injury after an ugly crash into the boards.

Rangers promote McCambridge to head coach of AHL team

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New York didn’t have to look far for Ken Gernander’s replacement in the minors.

Keith McCambridge, who served as Gernander’s assistant with AHL Hartford last season, has been promoted to head coach, the team announced on Monday.

McCambridge, 43, joined Hartford last year after being dismissed by Winnipeg following five seasons as the head coach of its AHL affiliate. His connection to the Rangers organization came through assistant coach Scott Arniel — the two worked together on the Manitoba Moose staff during the 2009-10 campaign.

Gernander was relieved of his duties last month following a 12-year tenure with the Wolf Pack, 10 of them as the club’s head coach. His dismissal came after the club missed the playoffs for a second consecutive season, finishing with a dismal 24-46-6 record.

‘I’m getting chills just thinking about it’ — Pens revel in joining back-to-back club


NASHVILLE — It’s often hard to contextualize accomplishments, especially in the immediate aftermath.

It didn’t seem to be a problem for the Pittsburgh Penguins.

After Sunday’s thrilling win over the Predators in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final, the Penguins joined some rarefied air. They became the first repeat champion of the salary cap era, and the first back-to-back winner since Detroit turned the trick nearly 20 years ago.

To a man, nearly all the Penguins acknowledged how special this was.

And they had no problem describing how it felt.

“The ’97-98 Wings, who I grew up cheering for being from Michigan,” forward Bryan Rust said. “To be in the same breath as those guys, Stevie [Yzerman] and all them, it’s something that’s irreplaceable.

“I’m getting chills just thinking about it.”

With tonight’s win, the Penguins have sparked a debate about the greatest team of the cap era. They and the Blackhawks are now tied with three titles each — and with all due respect to the Kings and their two Cups, they’re out of the conversation.

The Penguins would, seemingly, have the leg up on Chicago based solely on the last two seasons. The ‘Hawks never advanced past the conference final the year after winning a Cup. With these back-to-back championships, the Pens have done what no other cap teams has and, accordingly, raised the bar.

Head coach Mike Sullivan explained how his group accomplished such a feat.

“Part of the process is listening to all the experts, guys like you guys, telling us we can’t do it,” he said. “And history is telling us we can’t do it, because it hasn’t been done. The very first conversation we had with these guys, I challenged them right away and said, ‘Why not? Why can’t we?’

“Let’s not let someone else write our story.”

Pittsburgh certainly wove its own narrative. It won a title despite having no clear-cut No. 1 defenseman and, per Sportsnet, became the first team to ever win a Cup with a blueline comprised of guys that had never received a Norris vote.

The Pens won with an unheralded first-year player, Jake Guentzel, coming out of nowhere to tie the NHL record for playoff points by a rookie. They won despite losing versatile center Nick Bonino to a broken tibia in Game 2.

Their story had plenty of twists, even more turns, and an unlikely ending. Patric Hornqvist knocked home an ugly game-winner tonight, banking a puck from behind the goal and off Pekka Rinne‘s shoulder.

Put it all together, and Pittsburgh’s story isn’t just unique — it’s historic. The team is now forever etched in in NHL lore, right alongside a Detroit club the players talked about with reverence.

“I remember watching those Red Wings teams,” Ian Cole said. “It was something special to watch those teams, and I remember the way I felt watching those teams win.

“I knew if there was a team that could do it, it would be us.”

Hornqvist the hero as Pens capture second straight Stanley Cup


NASHVILLE — The winning goal wasn’t an oil painting.

But for the Pittsburgh Penguins, it was a thing of beauty.

The Penguins became the first repeat Stanley Cup champion in the salary cap era on Sunday night, thanks to Patric Hornqvist‘s goal with 95 seconds left for a 2-0 win over the Predators in Game 6.

Carl Hagelin‘s empty-netter with 14 seconds remaining sealed the deal. But the story of the game was Hornqvist’s tally, which was a weird one.

He was actually behind the goal line when he batted it in, knocking the puck off the back of Pekka Rinne‘s shoulder and into the net. The goal broke a breathless, exciting goalless game that seemed destined for overtime.

Prior to that, the two teams engaged in what was easily the best tilt of the series. And it wasn’t without drama. Nashville had a clear goal disallowed in the first period, when referee Kevin Pollock blew his whistle too early to nullify Colton Sissons‘ tally.

That one aside, there were chances aplenty, with both Rinne and Matt Murray standing on their heads at times. Rinne finished with 25 saves on 26 shots, while Murray stopped all 24 faced.

The biggest save may very well have come as the Predators were trying to cash in on a golden 5-on-3 power-play opportunity in the third period. As much as the Nashville fans wanted to rattle the 23-year-old with “Murr-ay” chants, he was clearly a huge difference-maker.

Not only was it his second consecutive shutout against Nashville, but he also made history as well. No goalie in NHL history has captured the Stanley Cup in each of his first two seasons.

Now, one has.

Heartbreak for the Predators

That disallowed goal was crushing enough. Failing to score on a 5-on-3 opportunity had to sting. As much as the Predators put on a brave face, they had just a bit more than a minute-and-a-half to shake off what would ultimately be the game-winning goal by former Predators winger Patric Hornqvist.

First-ever trips to the third round and Stanley Cup Final created unforgettable memories, yet the franchise has never experienced a brutal loss like this. They came two wins short of a championship and often carried the play against Pittsburgh, and the future could be bright … yet it’s tough to think about at a time like this.

Not when the Penguins are celebrating in front of their home crowd, something that’s becoming a bit of a tradition for Sidney Crosby‘s team.

Report: Jackets have deal in place with Vegas to avoid Hartnell headache


Last month, we wrote about how Columbus’ expansion draft plan hinged largely on one player — Scott Hartnell.

Now, it looks like the Jackets might’ve finagled their way around it.

From the Dispatch:

Speculation is that the Blue Jackets already have a deal in place with Vegas, that the sides have agreed to some form of mutual back-scratching that will steer the Golden Knights toward taking a player on their roster who will cause only a minor wince.

The Jackets will send Vegas a prospect and/or a draft pick to take player “A” instead of player “B,” and Vegas will agree to future considerations to make the deal conform to NHL guidelines.

Such a move would prevent Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen from having a potentially awkward conversation with Hartnell.

The veteran forward, who was made a healthy scratch in the playoffs, just wrapped the fourth of a six-year, $28.5 million deal. That contract carries a $4.75M cap hit and, more importantly, a no-movement clause.

That NMC means Columbus is required to protect Hartnell for expansion purposes.

If Hartnell is protected, the club risks losing one of Josh Anderson, Matt Calvert or William Karlsson. Of the three, Anderson would appear the most likely to be Vegas-bound — the 23-year-old is coming off a breakout campaign, in which he scored 17 goals and emerged as a big, fast and physically imposing power forward.

Unless, of course, Columbus has a deal in which Vegas wouldn’t take Anderson. The club would then avoid the risk of causing friction with Hartnell, and still retain a good young asset.

Columbus has until Monday to ask Hartnell to waive his NMC.